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Chugachmiut’s Restoration to Health Consultation

October 14, 2010

During it’s strategic retreat in May of 2010, the Chugachmiut board of directors adopted a holistic, long range strategy to work at restoring healthy living as a core cultural value of its people. The strategy is simple, but profound, and states:

“Chugachmiut will work with its tribal leadership and their members to regenerate a positive Native culture through which we will:

1)            achieve and maintain the best holistic rural health care system in the United States.

2)            return to a healthy lifestyle and restore our chronic health conditions to the best achievable state through proper nutrition, hydration and exercise;

3)            resolve our past historical and family generated trauma through forgiveness, open communication and appropriate trauma informed therapies, including traditional Native therapies; and

4)            achieve Tribal communities that demonstrate respect for individuals, nurture our children and cherish our elders, and creates common goals for using our resources wisely to create a healthy and supportive economy to fully employ all of our tribal members.”

During the discussion at the retreat prior to adoption of the strategy, one of our Tribal Chiefs gave the Executive Team some wise advice. While he agreed whole heartedly with the strategy, he was concerned about its implementation. He told us not to do the strategy “to us,” but to inform and educate our tribal members, and to “consult” with the tribes so that we could implement the strategy “with them.”

I understand the Chief’s concern in a deep and intimate way. Well meaning or not, we are accustomed to having things done to us, and not with us. As professionals, we sometimes adopt an attitude that we know what our members need, and proceed to deliver it without asking whether they want it, or whether the are ready for it.

My Executive Team talked about the Chief’s request, and developed a strategy to consult with the tribes. We already have a Community Health Advisory Committee that we will use as our foundation for advice. But we also wanted to inform and educate a substantial base of our tribal population, and ask for their advice on structuring the programs and their implementation. We have scheduled a three day consultation in early April, 2011, with up to 60 of our tribal members.

Our tribes are self-governed, and sovereign. They have appointed us to deliver services to their members in health care, dental care, behavioral health and in other areas. Their message to us is contained in the mission that our board of directors, appointed by the tribes, gave us in 1994, and that is to deliver our services “in a way which is acceptable to Native cultural traditions and values.” What better way to honor their mission than by asking how to deliver those services.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara Franks permalink
    October 15, 2010 11:05 AM

    I wish I could be part of this process, it is good to get the backing from your Executive Team, that’s awesome.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your staff as you take on this very important journey.

    /Barb

  2. October 16, 2010 8:14 AM

    Thank you Barb. Our board is also solidly behind the strategy, and they must be given great credit for tackling this huge issue in our communities.

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